Subterrania Show, London

Published in Kerrang!

Wednesday August 26
After 11 years together, The Afghan Whigs still haven’t become as big as their mainman Greg Dulli’s frequently remarkable songs should have made them. Next month they’ll try again with a new album ‘1965’, but this time Dulli has made his masterpiece. The feeling around the Whigs right now is that their moment has finally come.

Tonight is the second of two low-key UK club shows. Expanded to a seven-piece with the addition of two backing singers and a pianist, they’re essentially flexing their musical muscles for the benefit of the converted, who are packed in sardine-tight for the privilege.

Even at this early stage, having not been onstage together for some 18 months, The Afghan Whigs are a fabulous live band. Opening with ‘Something Hot’, the straight-up rocker that kicks of ‘1965’, then launching into a razor-sharp ‘Debonair’ from Dulli’s darkest album, 1993’s ‘Gentlemen’) & the loose-limbed ‘Going to Town’, it’s immediately clear just how much Susan Marshall’s cavern- sized voice has added to the Whigs’ sound, and the degree to which guitarist Rick McCollum and bassist John Curley drive it. But it’s Dulli who remains the band’s ringleader. He may be heftier these days, but he’s still playing the sharp-dressed ladykiller armed with a voice like rolling thunder. Dulli is in especially fine form this evening, partially due to the fact that he clearly loves being onstage but mainly thanks to the vat of vodka & orange he consumes throughout the gig. He hurls his band into a black-hearted version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, unveils two of the best songs he’s written – the eerily seductive ‘Omerta’, & the ebullient ‘Uptown Again’ – and spends many minutes cracking jokes at his own & everyone else’s expense. Then he hauls a young lady called Natasha out of the crowd, asks her if she’d like to sleep with him, snogs her, and leads her off by the hand. The good times are coming, & Greg Dulli is ready to devour them

High Point: The ferocious ‘What Jail is Like’
Low Point: Burly bassist John Curley wearing shades throughout the set.
Best Onstage Quote: ‘This is a song Robbie Williams wrote for us a couple of years ago when he was as fat as I am!’ – Greg Dulli
Verdict: Perfect gentlemen

Paul Rees

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